Kansas – The Amelia Earhart

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we travel through Kansas, which presented me with the challenge of differentiating between the state and Kansas City, Missouri. Our focus is on the Sunflower State, so let’s pop some seeds and get right into things:

Motto: “To the stars through difficulties” – Nah, I’d rather take the easy route!

Food: Brought over from Germany, Bierocks are meat pie pockets filled with ground beef, onions, cabbage and spices. They are very popular in Kansas, with many restaurants having them on their menu. Some even call Bierocks the state’s official food.

Drink: The Icee machine was invented in Coffeyville, by Omar Knedlik, a Diary Queen owner at the time. The device allowed for frozen drinks to be served, later being sold to 7-Eleven stores, bringing the world the Slurpee. Today, Icee offers a number of products under three different brands, but has moved its operations to California.

Icee

Site to See: Monument Rocks (aka Chalk Pyramids) are large formations found in Gove County. They comprise one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, which also consist of Mushroom Rock State Park, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and other attractions across the state.

Street: Wyatt Earp Boulevard takes folks through the infamous Dodge City, one of the wildest settlements of the Old West. Of course, Wyatt Earp is the legendary lawman who served Dodge City for a time. A bronze statue of Earp is located along the route.

TV Show: Gunsmoke began as a radio series, before being adapted for TV. The show is one of the longest running in history, airing for 20 seasons and 635 episodes. Starring James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon, Gunsmoke outlasted 30 other westerns to hit TV screens over that time.

Movie: One of the most beloved films of all-time, The Wizard of Oz, is set in Kansas. “We’re not in Kansas anymore!” is one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, said by Dorothy Gale to her dog Toto, as the duo find themselves in the mysterious land of Oz, following a tornado that hits the family farm. Remember, there’s no place like home.

Wizard of Oz

Book/Author: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, is a non-fiction account of the 1959 Clutter family murders in Holcomb. The book has gone on to become the second-best-selling true crime work ever and is thought to be among the originators of the genre.

Fictional Character: On the lighter side of the Kansas literary world, Dennis the Menace comics are also set in the state. Dennis Mitchell, the young troublemaker and thorn in the side of Mr. Wilson, is from a suburb of Wichita. Despite his penchant for causing chaos, Dennis means well and he is only a kid, after all.

Fictional City: Smallville, home to Clark Kent and other characters of the Superman universe, is located in Kansas. In the Smallville TV series, it’s established the town is located west of Wichita and southwest of Dodge City.

Actor/Actress: Dennis Hopper was born in Dodge City. His most famous roles include Easy Rider (which he also directed), Blue Velvet, and Hoosiers. Hopper made a great villain, playing that role in a trio of 1990’s films: Super Mario Bros., Speed and Waterworld. Sadly, Hopper died in May 2010, following a battle with cancer.

Dennis the Menace

Song: Home on the Range is the State Song of Kansas, with lyrics written by Kansan Dr. Brewster M. Higley, in the poem My Western Home. Crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra have recorded versions of the folk tune, as have numerous other musicians.

Band/Musician: It wasn’t difficult picking a musical act from Kansas, as one named after the state immediately jumped to mind. Kansas was formed in 1973, in Topeka. Best known for their hits Dust in the Wind and Carry On Wayward Son, the band is still performing together.

People: Iconic aviator, Amelia Earhart, was born in Atchison. She became the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, both as a passenger and on her own. With all the mystery surrounding her disappearance in 1937, as she attempted to fly around the world, Earhart has remained an intriguing figure. The 2009 film Amelia, starring Hilary Swank, documented Earhart’s life.

Animal: Touchdown I to XI were real-life bobcats who were the animal mascot of the Kansas State University Wildcats from 1922-1978. This was after coach Charles Bachman renamed the team, ushering in the Wildcats era.

Amelia Earhart

Invention: The first patented helicopter design was developed by William Purvis and Charles Wilson, in Goodland, in 1910. While the project was abandoned by both inventors by the time the patent was approved, the work of Purvis and Wilson eventually led others to fully realize a flying helicopter.

Crime: Dennis Rader, better known as the BTK Killer (for bind, torture, kill), murdered 10 people in Wichita between 1974 and 1991. Rader taunted police with a series of letters, describing the crimes. He was eventually arrested in 2005 and pled guilty, receiving a punishment of 10 consecutive life sentences. Also from Kansas, the Bloody Benders were America’s first serial killer family, with a body count of more than 20 between 1869 to 1873.

Law: At one point, it was illegal to serve ice cream on cherry pie. Poor, poor, cherries, always the victims of discrimination.

Sports Team: NCAA basketballs squads, including the University of Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State University Wildcats, are the most popular sporting outlet in the state. Kansans also support the teams of Kansas City, Missouri, with stadiums located close to the Kansas border.

Helicopter

Athlete: Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, Barry Sanders, was born in Wichita. Over a 10-year career, Sanders was a Pro Bowl selection every season he played, earning the NFL’s MVP award in 1997. Sanders surprisingly retired in 1999, at the age of 30 and still healthy. He is thought to be one of the greatest running backs ever.

Famous Home: Technically a home to those incarcerated there, Leavenworth Penitentiary was opened in 1903, as one of three original federal prisons built across the U.S. Famous inmates have included gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, NFL star Michael Vick and James Earl Ray, who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr.

Urban Legend: Fort Leavenworth has been called the “most haunted army base in the United States”, thanks to sites such as the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery and the demolished United States Disciplinary Barracks. Hauntings include the ghost of Catherine Sutter searching the cemetery for her missing son and daughter and phone calls being traced back to a barracks tower that had no phone line, following the suicide of a soldier there.

Museum: In Topeka, folks can find the Evel Knievel Museum, which houses the largest collection of memorabilia for the famous daredevil, as well as interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to experience virtual reality stunt jumps. If that’s not your type of thing, there’s also the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum, in La Crosse.

Evel-Knievel

Firsts: Actress Hattie McDaniel, born in Wichita, was the first African-American to win an Oscar, thanks to her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Perhaps even more notable, McDaniel was the first woman to sing over the radio in the U.S.

Company: AMC Theatres, the largest theatre chain in the world, is headquartered in Leawood. The company recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Also of note, restaurant chains Pizza Hut and White Castle were both founded in Kansas, before moving their operations to other states.

Events: The landmark Brown v. Board of Education legal battle was launched in Topeka. The end result was the racial desegregation of public schools across the country. Monroe Elementary School, where the conflict first began, is now known as the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.

Miscellaneous: Kansas is home to the geographic center of the United States (among the 48 mainland states). A small monument near the city of Lebanon marks this spot. The spot is used in the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman, as a neutral place where warring modern and old gods can meet.

The Amelia Earhart

The Amelia Earhart

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Crème de Violette
  • Add Strawberry Puree
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Strawberry Slice

It’s no surprise that one of Kansas’ most famous citizens would have a cocktail named in her honour. What is surprising is that there are so many variations of the drink, with largely the same result. I went with the most common of these recipes and it made for a good beverage.

August 13 – The Wave

Chain Gang

Mrs. Sip and I are always looking to try new restaurants. We travel often enough that it’s always good to have some ideas of places to hit in locations we aren’t accustomed to. That said, here are some chains I want to visit for the first time:

Carl’s Jr.

Watching TV the other day, I saw a new commercial for Carl’s Jr. that featured the Epic Meal Time guys presenting the burger joint’s new offering: the Super Bacon Burger. While this sandwich would have previously been unobtainable to me, save for a jaunt down to the United States, a Carl’s Jr. just opened up in my neighbourhood.

Carl's Jr.

She seems to like it!

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle is another chain that recently crossed the border and opened a location mere blocks from my home and work. Sadly, I have yet to visit, despite hearing good things. The restaurant’s food spiciness has been lampooned on South Park before, thanks to Cartman’s often disgusting eating habits.

Sonic Drive-In

I’ve enjoyed a number of commercials from this outlet and it would be totally nostalgic to visit one of these drive-in locations, complete with roller skating carhops. In recent years, the brand has also opened two Sonic Beach locations, which offer outdoor seating and serve beer and wine!

In-N-Out Burger

The draw of In-N-Out Burger is their “secret menu,” which features options like Animal Style Fries (fries with two slices of melted cheese, sauce, and grilled onions). The chain remains quite popular with customers because of this and other moves, such as paying employees well above the minimum wage in the areas they operate.

in-n-out-secret-menu

Chick-Fil-A

Despite the owner’s checkered history with public relations, I’ve heard great things about the food at Chick-Fil-A and would like to give it a shot. I love chicken burgers and any place that claims “We didn’t invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich,” deserves a chance to prove their mettle, in my books.

White Castle

If it was good enough for Harold and Kumar, then it’s good enough for me! It would be interesting to see how many of their famous sliders I could force down my gullet. I’m no competitive eater, but if these treats are as good as advertised, I’d love to take a crack at demolishing a stack of them.

Dave & Buster’s

This is like the adult version of Chuck E. Cheese’s combining video games, booze, food, and fun! If I was near any location, I would most certainly have my birthday there and redeem game tickets for penny candy, bouncy balls, and squirt guns! Come on, little sippers, let’s make this dream come true!!!

Drink #225: The Wave (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Wave Cocktail

  •  1 oz Cherry Lemonade Vodka
  • 1 oz Captain Morgan Bite Rum
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • Top with Club Soda or Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Blend with Ice
  • Garnish with Maraschino Cherries and a Cocktail Umbrella

Do you have any suggestions of chains I should try as Mrs. Sip and I travel the world? Obviously, you don’t know where we been and what we’ve tried, but if there’s a restaurant you treasure and you’d like to share that with us, feel free to throw it out there.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This recipe was created by Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip and used some very interesting spirit choices, creating a tasty blend. Depending on how sweet you want the cocktail, you can use either Club Soda or Lemon-Lime Soda as a mixer. For added presentation points, the girls added a light-up ice cube to the frozen concoction, giving it an alluring glow!